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Surface Dive (2000)

Layers of animation featuring more than 600 sculptures, 200 glass pieces and 2200 drawings evoke an inspiring diving exploration in a freshwater lake in Yucatan.


Joanna Priestley
2 wins. See more awards »




"Surface Dive" is a visually striking abstract film inspired by a diving trip in a freshwater lake in the Yucatan. Made from three layers of artwork (each animated separately and shot on a multi-level animation stand) more than 600 sculptures, 200 glass pieces and 2200 drawings combine to fashion a work of dazzling detail and complexity." -Bill Foster, Northwest Film Center Surface Dive was inspired by an experience Priestley had while diving in an underground river in the Yucatan, Mexico. The film combines three layers of abstract animation: drawings on paper, glass pieces and solid sculptures. The sculptures were made in silicone molds, shaped into replacement animation sequences and painted with acrylics. Written by -Bill Foster, Northwest Film Center

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Animation | Short







Release Date:

23 January 2000 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Surface Dive is dedicated to Jules Engel, Priestley's mentor at California Institute of the Arts. See more »

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User Reviews

14 June 2006 | by Polaris_DiBSee all my reviews

I saw this fine short after watching Utopia Parkway, and while this shares a lot of the same forms, colors, and style as Joanna's other work, this one is dazzling in anything as much as complication. There's a lot of stuff going on with sculptures, clay models, paintings, drawings, mirrors, magnifying glasses, water, and so on that it's impossible to keep up with in just one viewing.

Honestly I wouldn't know where to start making this, though it's not anything that I would say, "I wouldn't know where to start figuring this out." This isn't the figure-out type of art, this is the sit back and enjoy, sit for a while and enjoy again, and seriously sit down and enjoy this kind of art. It's really quite... fun! But complicated... very fascinatingly complicated.


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